Bangalore Symposium

Science and Beyond: Consciousness, Cosmology and Technology in the Indic Traditions

January 8-11, 2003
National Institute for Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India

We are grateful to our many partners for making this symposium possible:

  • John Templeton Foundation
  • CTNS Science and Religion Course Program
  • National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
  • Kengal Hanumanthaiya Foundation
  • The Infinity Foundation
  • Indian Council for Philosophical Research
  • Centre for Studies in Civilisations
  • Université Interdisciplinaire de Paris

Conference Overview
Religious and scientific specialists on consciousness gathered in Bangalore, India for the SSQ meeting titled “Science and Beyond: Cosmology, Consciousness, and Technology in the Indic Traditions.” More than in any other intellectual and cultural context in which SSQ has been active, the Indian participants sounded calls for a deeper integration of science and religion. Speakers continually returned to the Indian context in which the average worker earns $650 a year, half the population does not have access to safe drinking water, 37 percent of men and 50 percent of women are illiterate, and tens of thousands die annually of starvation and preventable diseases. Religion-and-science discussions cannot exist for their own sake. They are meaningful only for their contribution to the broader understanding of spirituality and for the way they affect human action in the world. Numerous Indian speakers called for a partnership of science and spirituality in the name of the poor and the suffering.

Several SSQ speakers spoke of ”returning to where we began” because the Indic traditions have long acknowledged the complementary nature of the scientific and spiritual quests. During the first public event, keynote speaker Charles Townes addressed an audience of 650 listeners at the Indian Institute of Science. Indian respondents M.S. Swaminathan and Ramanath Cowsik endorsed Townes’s list of parallels between science and religion. Yet both emphasized that the Indian spiritual traditions entail an even greater degree of closeness than Western theism allows.

Roger Penrose and Jane Goodall participated in the second public event that drew nearly 7,000 people. Penrose argued that values and beauty may well be Platonic ideals that exist eternally, distinct from the physical world and the mental world. Jane Goodall addressed the crowd with a plea for a ”wedding of science and religion that would include all of nature.”

The final Science and the Spiritual Quest II conference revealed the myopia of many Western discussions of science and religion.

Program Themes

  • Science and Beyond
  • Indic ways of thinking and scientific traditions
  • Method and epistemology
  • Toward the future
  • Identity, consciousness and the self
  • Biosciences and values
  • Science and society
  • Health and the environment

Speakers Included:

  • N. Balakrishnan Toward the Future: Can we see the “Age of Spiritual Machines”
  • M. L. Bhaumik Quantum Physics Points to a Spiritual Universe
  • D. P. Chattopadhyaya Refutability and Histority of Science
  • Philip Clayton Transforming “the Beyond” from Enemy to Ally: Five Methodological Suggestions to Open the Dialogue between Science and the Spiritual Quest
  • George Ellis Physics, Complexity and the Nature of Reality
  • Jane Goodall A Spirituality for All Living Things
  • Bruno Guiderdoni How did the Universe begin? Cosmology and Metaphysics for the XXI Century
  • Ashok Kumar Jain Explorations of the Spiritual World in Jain Tradition
  • Devaki Jain Quest for Healing
  • D. R. Kaarthikeyan Science, Religion and Harmony
  • R. L. Kapur The Making of a Sadhu: An Inquiry into Higher States of Mental Health
  • N. Kumar Free-willed Consciousness in Interaction with Will-free Cosmos: Is there inconsistency
  • Rajiv Malhotra Indic Challenges to the Disciples of Science and Religion
  • Sangeetha Menon Beyond “what” and what is “beyond”
  • N.R. Natayana Murthy Technology, Society and Values
  • P. K. Mukhopadhyay Back to the Epistemology of Subjective Experience
  • V. Nanjundiah Science and Evolution
  • R. Narasimha The Fundamental Problem of Human Action
  • M. G. Narasimhan On Knowledge, Ignorance and Limits of Science
  • Thomas Odhiambo The Power of Faith in Science and Spirituality
  • Sir Roger Penrose Platonic Ideals and the Real World
  • Joseph Prabhu The Odyssey of Consciousness: Aurobindo and Hegel
  • P. Rama Rao Technology, Society and Values
  • S. K. Ramachandra Rao Experience and Existence
  • K. Ramakrishna Rao Knowing and Being: Cross-Cultural Contours of Consciousness Studies
  • Swami Bodhananda Saravati – Beyond (spiritual), non-beyond (non-spiritual), and pseudo-beyond (pseudo-spiritual)
  • Sundar Sarukkai Boundaries
  • S. Settar Collective Wisdom: Some Indian Experiments
  • H. N. Shankar Is it Relative?....Absolutely!
  • H. Simha In Pursuit of Excellence
  • Anindya Sinha Brave New World? Scientific and Ethical Issues in Cloning Human Beings
  • B. V. Sreekantan The Quest for Ultimate Reality
  • Sharada Srinivasan The “Cosmic” Dance of Siva: What Does it Imply?
  • Jean Staune Toward the Future in Cosmology, Consciousness and Religion
  • M. S. Swaminathan Science, Peace and Sustainable Development
  • Charles Townes A Scientist’s View of the Parallelism and Ultimate Convergence of Science and Religion
  • C. S. Unnikrishnan Universe from Beyond: The Role of Unobservables in Science
  • M. S. Valiathan Glimpses of Charaka’s Legacy
  • P. G. Vaidya Preliminary Case for a Hypothesis of the Superconscious
  • K. VijayRaghavan Brave New World Revisited: What are the current limits, imposed by science and society, on human experimentation?

Organizing Committee:

  • Sangeetha Menon, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
  • Professor Roddam Narasimha, Director, NIAS
  • Dr. B. V. Subbarayappa, Indian Institute of World Culture
  • Dr. Ramanath Cowsik, Director, India Institute of Astrophysics
  • Professor B V Sreekantan, NIAS
  • Dr. D. P. Chattopadhyaya, Chairman, Centre for Civilization Studies, New Delhi
  • Dr. Philip Clayton, Principal Investigator, Science and the Spiritual Quest